I chose the above photograph because it's beautiful, because I hope to focus on what Leon called the Beautiful Way, and also because World Youth Day has ended and I imagine for many of the pilgrims it was a beautiful experience.
I managed to catch quite a bit of World Youth Day on EWTN and have some first impressions, but I'll get to those later. First though I want to start where I ended the last post, with Leon's teachings about walking the Redroad, or the Beautiful Path.
In Navajo teachings they make frequent use of the concept of the triangle. Picture an equilateral triangle. At the top is the Spiritual flow, the right bottom angle is the mental, and the left is the physical. The lines which connect the angles represent different paths which man must both walk and integrate. The line connecting the Spiritual with the Mental is the culture in which we grew up in as determined by language, religion, nation, and family history. This line determines very much how we learn to think and how our religious experience influences our thinking about spirituality.
The line connecting the mental with the physical is about how we integrate things like our gender and sexuality, our material assets, our physical setbacks, and other aspects of our physical being. The line between the physical and the spiritual describes what Leon calls the Beauty way and this basically refers to how our physical and emotional lives are expressed in our spiritual way of living. Jesus would say the Beauty Path is His definition of the Way.
Each of us would have understood what Leon was teaching here in our own unique way, and so this is my way of understanding it. I don't claim to be speaking for Leon's interpretation because my spiritual and mental line is a product of a completely different language, culture and spirituality. But that's OK, in walking the Beauty path it's not so much where you start from but where you end up. Ideally, people who walk an integrated path will all wind up at the same point, the understanding that love rules and unconditional love is the meta rule which ultimately gives meaning and beauty to the material world. It's the organizational principle in which Chaos is brought to brilliant manifestations of beauty. This is certainly what Christ taught, albeit from a different century, and in a different culture. The fundamental truth of this teaching is what is important, and 'knowing' this in an integrated and meaningful way, gives rise to what I call the ability to practice 'spiritual' technology.
Padre Pio was the consummate Catholic practitioner of Spiritual technology. Leon and other Native Holy People I have met are also consummate practitioners of the Spiritual technology with in their own spiritualities. This is why people go to them for healing, for insight, to find lost objects and people, for manifestation of things to ease some current shortfall, to experience the power of Spirituality in practice, to give their lives more meaning, to learn how to be practitioners themselves. They, as did Pio, manifest exactly the same kinds of thing Jesus did. Jesus never worried about day to day survival, because He knew those things would manifest, even if it meant feeding 5000 people.
I read the New Testament now with an eye to seeing it as a training manual for the practice of Spiritual technology. If you open yourself up to this possibility it becomes apparent that Jesus taught with the intent of bringing us to the point where we could do as He did. He even told us we could do greater things. The greatest thing He showed us was that it was possible to transcend death and retain a physical presence which was incorruptible and fully capable of experiencing the material world. The resurrected body He demonstrated Himself, was vastly different from the resurrected body of Lazarus.
Jesus was also capable of accessing this body while He lived. He could walk on water. Peter proved he still didn't quite get the notion of imbuing the physical with the spiritual. That is of transcending his enculturated world view with the spiritual world view. Peter was still stuck on the corners of his personal triangle, while Jesus was operating from the pinnacle and allowing the pinnacle of spirituality to flow through the lines of His triangle. In other words Jesus's flow went top to bottom, while Peter, like us, was still flowing bottom to top.
As I see it this is the real quest in any spiritual tradition. To get one's energy flowing from top to bottom instead of the other way around. The trick to doing this is to reorient your yourself away from the transient ego self manifested in this life, and re-member you are really something far greater--a unique piece of Divinity, not limited by time or matter. We are in fact eternal spiritual beings living a temporary biological existence. Our mission is to bring even more beauty to material existence by manifesting love in a physical and conscious way and to do this in community, where it's potential effects are even greater.
The greatest effect we can have is when we begin to re-member who we really are and why we chose to come here--- and we chose to come here, just like Jesus chose to come here. ( Short aside. I just read where 38% of English Catholics now admit to believing in reincarnation. That's a pretty significant chunk of the sensus fidelium. I suspect the actual percentage is higher, and it would probably run along the same lines in the US. This is another major unaddressed issue by the hierarchy. A reincarnational world view represents a major threat to a lot of Church doctrine. Maybe that's why the deafening silence from the teaching authority.)
The Church has focused on the Crucifixion as a sacrifice which redeemed all of us and kind of leaves the Resurrection as a one shot deal, basically proving the obvious that Jesus was the Son of God. However, His life may have been BOTH that, AND a blue print for how his en fleshed brothers and sisters could achieve our own fully human status. I think we've completely missed the 'and' part of His reasons for living the life He led. His mission was not only redemptive, it was Enlightening. As He was human, so are we. As He came to understand His humanity, so can we. The focus of his mission did not culminate on the cross, but in the resurrection.
Leon calls this evolving understanding the beautiful road. It is a beautiful road, and the gifts one receives as one progresses further on that road, are gifts of spiritual gifts of technology, spiritual gifts of creativity, spiritual gifts of insight and understanding, and the ability to communicate with other beings of light on the road with us. I encourage you to go back and reread the New Testament with different eyes to see and ears to hear. It's a both/and message.
Now onto WYD which does not seem to have been teaching a both/and message. The stations of the cross were magnificently done, but I guess I missed the Resurrection part. That's assuming it was part of the week, because I have seen no mention of it. Shock. There is nothing about the Resurrection which supports the need for a special class of male clerics to distribute sacraments.
I also thought the candle light vigil was quite the visual and inspiring. However, I thought the closing Mass was extremely tedious, hated the way the candles on the altar interfered with the camera shots, couldn't help but notice the hierarchy had all the elevated and exalted seats which led me to wonder if this final spectacle wasn't intended to remind the youth just exactly where they stood in the pecking order, and finally I found the dunking of the host in cups of wine by clergy to be tacky as hell, given the that the chosen pilgrims knelt for communion and were hand fed. I thought the Bendict's sermon was one of his better efforts, but Pell and Ruini were tedious in the profuseness of their self congratulations. Then at the end, when all the Cardinals came to kiss Benedict's ring I realized I was so far from this concept of imperial Catholicism that I felt I was watching something almost obscene. End of thoughts.